Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Department of Public Safety: a National Model for Healthcare PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by G. Keith Smith, M.D.,   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:35

As ObamaCare becomes ever more unpopular, the single payer idea keeps coming up. So let’s consider what a single-payer system would look like. There are so many places to look it’s a little confusing. Here’s a partial list.

Canada tends to come up first, and I think about it a lot. That’s because lots of Canadians come to our facility in Oklahoma for their care. Do I really need to say anything else? These are people who have been told to wait for years before they can see a specialist because there are budget “caps.” When the money is gone, the doctor’s office is closed. Surgeons are allowed only so much time in the operating room in a month. When they have used up their time, they can do no more surgery. Rather than have the market determine the allocation of resources, a Canadian bureaucrat creates a budget and that’s that. Presto! The “right” to healthcare is defined. It might not feel too much like a right, however, to those who have to travel to the U.S. for timely surgery, or for those who die waiting in line for care.

Then there’s Britain. The Brits harbor such nationalistic pride in their healthcare system that they celebrated it in the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics. It is based on the same faulty economic premise as the Canadian system. The Brits not only euthanize their sick citizens to free up scarce hospital beds (do you wonder how this shortage of beds came about?), but they are proud of this and have even given this highway to the cemetery a fancy name: the Liverpool Care Pathway.British patients that become extremely ill have a better chance of survival at home, surrounded by family and friends, as no one stands a chance once on the LCP. Recovery from severe illness can occur without the help of modern medicine, but recovery of the very sick isn’t likely when the hospital staff is actively murdering them.

But there is no need to go outside of the U.S. to see the wonders of socialism in medicine. The VA hospitals and the Indian hospitals provide examples of efficiency brought to us in medicine from government bureaucrats.

Our local paper’s lead article recently informed us that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) was closing the office administering driver’s tests for the day to train their employees. Zeke Campfield of The Oklahoman writes that the “operator of a local Chick-fil-A restaurant will teach examiners how to be patient and courteous.”

What would happen to an employee at Chick-fil-A that was not patient with and courteous to customers? What would patrons of Chick-fil-A do if they were not treated in a timely manner and with respect? What would happen to Chick-fil-A if this treatment of customers were widespread?

Campfield’s article also talks about a mother getting in line outside the DPS testing center at 4:15 A.M., only to be turned away at the end of the day because there were simply not enough examiners to get to her son. Three mornings in a row. The spokesman for the DPS muttered something about budget cuts, so I’m guessing we’ll see government’s usual response, that of throwing even more money at failure.

Try to imagine the DPS in charge of your medical care. Rude and inefficient staff. No competitive fears. Hospitals working together to institutionalize mediocrity so no one stands out as better, eliminating troublesome comparisons. Long waiting lines. Always blaming the lack of funding or budget caps.

The efficiencies and quality of the private sector cannot be superimposed on government agencies for one simple reason: without competitors, government doesn’t have to care. Ever. Our state government wants to introduce private sector ideas into a failed government organization. Ironic, isn’t it, that health care bureaucrats are increasingly embracing the business plan of the DPS, even as the DPS is looking for private-sector answers? At least the DPS hasn’t started euthanizing applicants waiting in line to free up examination spots.


Shutdown, Unplug and Reboot Recruitment event flyer.pdf Shutdown, Unplug and Reboot Recruitment event PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Kat Riley   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:19

Grassley, Issa, Gowdy Continue Review of Minnesota’s Use of Federal Tax Dollars for State-only Health Programs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 14:42

WASHINGTON -- Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee continued their examination of Minnesota’s inappropriate and possibly illegal misuse of federal tax dollars to cross-subsidize its state-only health programs.

The issue has been under the close inspection of Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and House Oversight Subcommittee on Health Care Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-SC.

A state legislative audit report found that Minnesota was underpaying managed care companies in the state for state-only health programs and overpaying insurance companies for Medicaid.  Since federal taxpayers pay half of Minnesota’s Medicaid expenditures, federal taxpayers were inappropriately cross-subsidizing managed care companies in Minnesota for state-only health plans.

In March 2011, UCare, the smallest of Minnesota’s four managed care companies operating in the state, returned $30 million to the state.  UCare’s CEO attributed this contribution to excess 2010 operating margins, which largely resulted from Medicaid overpayments.

It appears that the Minnesota Department of Human Services attempted to disguise this repayment as a “donation” in order to keep all of it in state coffers, as opposed to returning the appropriate amount to the federal taxpayer. Minnesota finally agreed to return the federal share to the U.S. Treasury the day before a April 2012 House Oversight Committee hearing.

However, because of conflicting statements at the hearing from Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and other contradictory information, questions remain about whether or not the state agency was attempting to defraud the federal taxpayer.

“The State’s agreement with UCare to count UCare’s $30 million repayment toward the 2011 profit cap raises serious questions regarding your insistence that half of UCare’s $30 million “donation” was not subject to federal recoupment,” write Grassley, Issa, and Gowdy.

The letter directs Commissioner Jesson to clarify contradictory testimony, given under oath, before the House Oversight Committee; clarify the timeline and decision-making process on the remission to the U.S. Treasury; and to produce documents inappropriately withheld from earlier requests.

The text of the letter is available here. The House Oversight Committee held a hearing in April, and issued a staff report.



Inspector General Releases Iowa City VA Report PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 30 August 2012 07:37

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Senator Chuck Grassley gave the following statement after the Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report on a “Review of Quality of Care, Management, and Operations” of the Iowa City VA Health Care System.  Grassley requested the report after employees and patients contacted his office with serious allegations at the facility that were cause for concern about the direction of the facility and its impact on patient care. Nearly 1,000 employees responded to the Inspector General’s survey request.  The Inspector General also conducted two site visits during its review.  The Inspector General will be conducting follow-up inquiries in October to determine if improvement has been made.

The Inspector General’s report can be found here.  Grassley’s original letter requesting a review can be found here.

“I appreciate the whistleblowers’ willingness to come forward and alert me to these problems.  Veterans deserve the highest quality of care, and we needed to make sure the high quality that we’ve come to know from the Iowa City VA hospital was still being delivered.  The good news is that while the Iowa City VA facility has serious management problems to address, our veterans are receiving stellar care thanks to the hard work of the hospital’s ‘highly competent professional staff.’  The key for the management is to immediately take steps to address the problems laid out by the Inspector General before patient care is impacted.  There are several actions recommended in the report that the leaders of the hospital can take to help rectify the problems that were identified.  I strongly suggest the senior management take the conclusion and recommendations of the review to heart and make substantive changes.”

Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Thornton to Host Virtual Office Hours to Discuss How USDA is Making the School Day Healthier for America’s Students PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 15:07

WASHINGTON, August 28, 2012 – TOMORROW at 1 pm EDT, Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Janey Thornton will host a live Twitter chat focusing on the new nutrition standards for school meals to kick off USDA’s “The School Day Just Got Healthier” back to school campaign.

Ask the Deputy Under Secretary about USDA’s school meals programs and its work to make the school day healthier. She played a key role in bringing these changes to fruition and this is a great opportunity to touch base with a national leader in school meal services. The new standards, established under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week; substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods and low-fat or fat-free milk; limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.

Submit your “The School Day Just Got Healthier” related questions in advance to the @USDA Twitter account using the hashtags #AskUSDA and #SchoolFoodsRule.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1 p.m. EDT

WHAT: USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Thornton will answer questions about the new nutrition standards for school meals.

WHERE: Tune in online by following the @USDA Twitter account. Use hashtags #askUSDA and #SchoolFoodsRule to submit questions in advance and during the live Twitter chat.


USDA Virtual Office Hours, a monthly live question and answer series allows stakeholders to directly engage with USDA leadership and subject matter experts-through Twitter. Sessions will be focused on a specific mission, issue or program, as aligned with the Department’s strategic goals and based on stakeholder interests.



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